GPS watches are the go-to choice for technology for an incredibly range of activities: hiking, climbing, swimming, running, fitness training, and so much more.
They are a very useful tool for safety in the outdoors, tracking your performance, and a variety of smartwatch capabilities.
These watches can help you elevate your training, explore without the risk of getting lost, track your sleep and overall health, and a lot more.
People buy GPS watches for a variety of reasons, but no matter how you intend to use the watch, it’s important that you choose the right one.
GPS watches are fairly complex pieces of technology, so choosing between them can be difficult if you haven’t used one before. We’re here to help with a detailed guide on how to choose a GPS watch.
We spent 25 hours researching GPS watches and analyzed 24 products and 932 consumer reviews to choose the best GPS watches in Canada.
We evaluated these products on a number of characteristics including GPS accuracy with satellite constellations, tracking capabilities, user friendliness, value, durability, and reliability.
Following our last update, we recommend the Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch for its performance, reliability, and user-friendliness.
Table of Contents
GPS Watch Comparative Table
|Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch||
||9.5/10||See price on Amazon|
|Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Unisex Watch
||9.7/10||See price on MEC|
|Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch||
||9.7/10||See price on Amazon|
|Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch||
||9.0/10||See price on Amazon|
Our Pick for The Best GPS Watch
The Best Overall
If you’re looking for a GPS watch that offers reliable performance and accurate tracking at a reasonable price, the Garmin Instinct rugged outdoor smartwatch is the best choice. It is our top recommendation if you’re interested in a quality, value-packed GPS watch.
Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch Video Review
What We Think of The Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch
The Garmin Instinct is a durable, military-grade GPS watch designed for users to wear 24/7 while living their lives. In terms of GPS performance, it is hard to beat with a built-in 3-acis compass, barometric altimeter, and 3-point GPS support from GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems. You can go anywhere in the world and be covered by the Garmin Instinct GPS tracking.
This watch also has an incredibly battery life of a maximum of 14 days in smartwatch mode, 40 hours in battery saver mode, and 16 hours of GPS tracking. It can connect to your phone via Bluetooth for notifications, calls and texts, and music so you can stay connected to the world while out in the middle of nowhere. Plus, the TracBack feature allows you to follow your route from back to front so you get back to your starting point without trouble.
Despite the number of things you can do with this watch, I found it really easy to learn and use after just a little exploration. The battery life on it is amazing, by far the best on any GPS or smart watch I’ve owned in the past. It is light enough that I barely feel it on my wrist and I really enjoy all the tracking that helps me visualize my own fitness. It’s a really great watch!
The Garmin Instinct watch is also great for swimmers and divers with 100m water resistance. It will track your heart rate, activity stress, and dozens of activities with its preloaded workout profiles. At 50grams, you’ll barely notice the watch is there so it is a convenient choice if you want to feel safe and connected while enjoying the outdoors alone. For the performance, it is well-priced, and it is one of the best GPS watches out there in terms of quality, reliability, and ease of use.
Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch Specifications
- Colour: Black, yellow, white, red, blue, light blue
- Weight: 50 grams
- Battery Life: 16 hours in GPS mode, 14 days in smartwatch mode, 40 hours with battery saver
- Water Resistance: Up to 100 meters
- Screen Size: 1.27 inches
- Warranty: 1 year
Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch Pros and Cons
- 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter
- TracBack feature gets you back to your starting point following the same route
- Connects to your smartphone for music, phone connectivity, live tracking, and more
- Preloaded activity profiles for running, biking, swimming, and more
- App can be a bit glitchy when syncing planned routes to the watch
Our Final Opinion about the Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch[usrlist Quality:5 Effectiveness:5 Design:5 Price:5]
Overall, this Garmin Instinct GPS watch offers the perfect balance of value and quality. It has a user-friendly design, incredibly convenient features, and accurate tracking with every feature you’ll need when exercising and living your life.
Our Upgrade Pick for a GPS Watch
The Advanced Choice
When it comes to tracking your location, performance, and health statistics, you deserve the absolute best technology available. The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro solar unisex watch is your best bet. It includes every advanced feature with reliability and user-friendliness to boot.
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Unisex Watch Video Review
What We Think of The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Unisex Watch
We could spend days talking about the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro solar watch. Its features are truly remarkable with more functionality than any other watch on the market. The Solar power offers up to 40 days of extra battery life depending on features used, and the Sun Gauge display will alert you to its solar charge status. There are more than 41,000 golfing maps, 2000 skiing maps, and built-in modes for every activity you could ever wish to participate in.
This watch has all the basic smartwatch features including receiving notifications and calls/texts from your phone, but it can also suggest points of interest wherever you go and has multiple customizable maps for a more integrated experience. There are numerous advanced features including round-trip mapping, Trendline for choosing popular routes, PacePro for setting your pace and monitoring your goals, Body Battery for tracking your daily energy levels, drains, and recharging, Garmin Pay for easier payments on the go, LiveTrack data sharing, sleep tracking, and a lot more.
This Garmin GPS watch is the best piece of technology I’ve ever owned. It seems smarter than my smartphone and has every feature imaginable. The battery is great, the music storage is great, the safety features are great, the route options are great, everything is great! I use it for all of my activities from swimming to hiking and bike racing, and I love it!
This watch truly has it all. It is a great choice for pros and beginners alike, and it connects to an intelligent app with features like all-day tracking, 7-day tracking insights, assistance mode for alerting emergency contacts in case of an accident, and more. Its GPS is incredibly accurate with an altimeter, barometer, and tilt-compensated compass. Though incredibly expensive, you won’t need any other piece of equipment for tracking your exercise and staying safe in the outdoors.
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Unisex Watch Specifications
- Colour: Black
- Weight: 93 grams
- Battery Life: 16-2880 hours
- Water Resistance: Waterproof
- Screen Size: 4 inches
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Unisex Watch Pros and Cons
- Incredibly advanced performance, sleep, and activity tracking
- Multiple safety features so you feel safe and get help when needed
- Amazing route programming
- Excellent connectivity for smartwatch operation and music
- Very expensive
Our Final Opinion About the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Unisex Watch[usrlist Quality:5 Effectiveness:5 Design:5 Price:3]
The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro watch is the best GPS watch on the market. If you can afford to splurge on this high-end, technology-rich watch, you’ll have more features than you know what to do with. No matter your activity or exercise regimen, this watch has what it takes to keep you impressed and informed every step of the way.
Our Runner Pick for a GPS Watch
The Runner’s Choice
If you’re a runner, you need a different watch style than a hiker or a strength trainer. The Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS running smartwatch is the perfect watch for tracking your runs so you can find all the best routes and track every important statistic while training or improving your fitness.
Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch Video Review
What We Think of the Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch
The Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS running smartwatch is our top pick for runners since it has the right tracking ability and features that runners will benefit from the most. This watch will help you improve your training by providing detailed analytics after every run, including your recovery after every run and your VO2 max for accurate performance insights.
Through the Garmin app, you can customize routes based on your desired distance when training, and you can take advantage of a variety of free workouts that can be downloaded right to your watch. The GPS functionality is incredibly accurate and the watch’s technology includes a variety of running-specific metrics like ground contact time, vertical oscillation, cadence, stride length, and vertical ratio. These metrics will help you improve your form, thereby improving your speed, stamina, and overall performance with regular training.
I’ve had the watch for 6 months now and am pleased. The battery lasts a few days before needing a charge. It syncs with my Lose It app for tracking my exercise which is incredibly useful and it does everything it should. Since I’m training for a marathon, this watch has been really helpful in reaching my full potential. Highly recommend for all runners!
The watch is incredibly light at less than 37 grams, so you won’t even feel it after a few seconds. It offers up to 24 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 7 days in smart watch mode for use during your normal routine as well. Incident detection will alert your emergency contacts in case of a fall as well to keep you safe when running alone. The touchscreen interface is easy to use and will be easy to learn even if you’ve never used it before. This is one of the best running watches out there, though there are some gaps in features and tracking accuracy in some cases.
Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch Specifications
- Colour: Black
- Weight: 3 grams
- Battery Life: 7 days in smartwatch mode, 24 hours in GPS mode
- Water Resistance: Rain/sweat only
- Screen Size: 1.2 inches
- Warranty: 1 year
Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch Pros and Cons
- Touchscreen is easy to navigate
- Evaluates training status to keep you from over- or under-training
- Provides advanced running analytics when paired with a running dynamics pod
- Incident detection automatically calls for help
- Fairly shoddy software with inconsistencies in tracking
- No elevation display
Our Final Opinion About the Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch[usrlist Quality:5 Effectiveness:4 Design:5 Price:5]
Overall, we’re happy with the performance of the Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS running smartwatch. Though it doesn’t have as much technology as other GPS watches, it is the best choice for runners since it has the right features for endurance activities with an affordable price tag attached.
Our Budget Pick for a GPS Watch
The Budget Pick
If you’re only searching for a GPS watch that can track your movements and don’t require any advanced features like activity tracking or phone connectivity, the Suunto Core outdoor sports watch is the best choice for basic operation and a much more reasonable price.
Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch Video Review
What We Think of the Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch
The Suunto Core outdoor sports watch is a more basic model designed as an entry-level watch for casual users. Though it doesn’t offer same advanced tracking and GPS location as high-end options, it does have very valuable features included for a great price. This watch tracks the weather and the sun for you so you know what you’ll be facing with every outdoor excursion, as well as how to plan your outdoor activities to be home safe or back to your vehicle before sunset.
A built-in altimeter displays your vertical movement, a compass keeps you headed in the right direction, and a barometer displays the air pressure to keep you safe when climbing. Suunto even designed the watch with a storm warning to prevent you from getting caught in the rain without the proper gear. The display screen is large and well-designed, but it is a bit difficult to read in the bright sunlight (as most are), so you may not be able to view the watch face without shading it with your hand in some cases.
The display is a little hard to see when you’re outdoors, but given that it’s supposed to be a tactical watch, I don’t mind having to shade the face to read it. The usability isn’t very intuitive, but I figured it out with the help of a couple of YouTube videos. It has a lockout feature so that buttons can’t be pressed while you workout and it’s held up really well after two field exercises. Great for the price!
The battery is unlike that in most other GPS watches in that it doesn’t need to eb recharged. Instead, it offers up to 12 months of battery life before needing to be replaced with a new one. This is an incredibly convenient design choice for users that will be wearing their watch all day every day. You can even wear this watch when snorkeling and swimming since it is water resistant up to 30 meters. Though without the same functionality as more expensive options, this is a great first watch for people exploring the usefulness of a sport watch/GPS watch for themselves.
Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch Specifications
- Colour: Black
- Weight: 81.5 grams
- Battery Life: 12 months – non-rechargeable
- Water Resistance: 30 meters
- Screen Size: 1.9 inches
- Warranty: 1 year
Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch Pros and Cons
- Shows current weather and provides a storm warming
- Includes altimeter, compass, and barometer
- Water resistant up to 30 meters
- Doesn’t connect to your phone for music or smartwatch functionality
- Does not have advanced route or workout features
Our Final Opinion About the Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch[usrlist Quality:4 Effectiveness:4 Design:4 Price:5]
The Suunto Core outdoor sports watch doesn’t have the same performance and features as higher end options, but it is the right choice for beginners and those who don’t need the same advanced technology as athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.
Alternative Products to Consider
Huawei GT 2 Smart Watch Review
The All-Day Alternative
The Huawei GT 2 smart watch is the best fit for all-day use. If you’re interested in tracking your movements throughout the day and want a watch that isn’t bulky or obtrusive through your daily activities, this is the best choice.
Huawei GT 2 Smart Watch Video Review
What We Think of the Huawei GT 2 Smart Watch
Huawei’s GT 2 is one of the best watches on the market for all day use. It weighs only 40 g, and with a screen size of just under 1.4”, it won’t be heavy enough or bulky enough to wear you down over the course of the day. Since the battery can last up to two weeks on a single charge, you can be sure that you won’t be charging this watch every night and forgetting to put it back on the next day. We all know how busy mornings can make us forget small things like that.
One thing to love about this watch is that it has a sleep tracker. With its comfortable design, you can wear this watch all day and night and it will be hardly noticeable. Its sleep track function can help give you some insight about your sleeping patterns and potentially even help you correct them. There are 15 training modes built in as well, so you can track nearly any activity. With a great water-resistance rating, no activity is off limits.
My favourite part of this watch is the long battery life – I easily go a week without recharging. The feel is incredible since it is very lightweight and the build quality seems top notch. I get a lot of use out of the stopwatch and timer but I also really like that I get my phone notifications on the watch. The only part to watch out for is that the step counter isn’t always accurate.
There are a few cons for this model that you should be aware of. First off, as a Huawei device, it isn’t compatible with IOS devices or non-Huawei equipment like running pods. This may quite a deterrent for some people. Also, there is no way to access data history, so if you’re looking to monitor progress and keep track of previous days, this isn’t the smart watch for you.
Huawei GT 2 Smart Watch Specifications
- Colour: Black
- Weight: 40 grams
- Battery Life: Up to 2 weeks
- Water Resistance: 5 ATM water-resistance
- Screen Size: 1.39 inches
- Warranty: 1 year
Huawei GT 2 Smart Watch Pros and Cons
- Has a sleep tracker
- Long battery life
- 15 training modes built in
- Great water resistance for swimming, kayaking, and other water-based activities
- Doesn’t work with iOS devices
- Can’t be used with any non-Huawei equipment such as running pods
- Can’t access data history
Our Final Opinion About the Huawei GT 2 Smart Watch[usrlist Quality:5 Effectiveness:5 Design:4 Price:5]
Despite its limited compatibility with devices, the Huawei GPS watch is a high-quality choice that offers the right number of features that works for users of all fitness levels and tracking habits. This watch is better suited to people who want a high-performance smartwatch over a training assistant with detailed stat history.
Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch Review
The Digital Alternative
GPS watches are packed full of outstanding features, so it only makes sense that users choosing a GPS watch would prefer one with digital operation features that make it more intuitive to use. The Polar Ignite Advanced waterproof fitness watch is the ideal digital choice for tech-savvy users.
Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch Video Review
What We Think of The Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch
The Polar Ignite fitness watch is the perfect choice for all of those techy people out there. It has a touchscreen for the digital interface, allowing you efficient control and manipulation of the watch’s feature. The digital setup also makes this watch very lightweight, at only 35 grams. The screen size is larger than others at 1.7”, but this makes it easier for you to see and interact with the screen.
The battery life isn’t the best at 4-5 days per charge, but it will depend on the features you are using and how often you interact with it. There are 6 different colour options to choose from, so you can be sure to get a style that suits you. This model comes with a one-year warranty as well, so you will be protected in case it comes malfunctional or it stops working early on.
This is a good watch overall. It does about the same things as my old Fitbit did (minus the GPS), but it isn’t as good as a lot of other GPS watches that can track a lot more. It’s good as an entry level device, and the display is easy to read with the step tracking and sleep tracking, but I feel it is overpriced for what it does. Overall, I do like it though.
Two great features you’ll appreciate are the sleep tracking and the FitSpark daily training guide. The guide can help you be more active in engaging ways, and the sleep tracking can ensure that you are actually getting a restful night’s sleep. This watch is missing some of the functionality offered by other brands, but it is an overall solid choice.
Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch Specifications
- Colour: Black and silver, white, pink, orange, yellow, black and copper
- Weight: 35 grams
- Battery Life: 4-5 days depending on feature use
- Screen Size: 1.7 inches
- Warranty: 1 year
Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch Pros and Cons
- Very lightweight
- Digital interface with touch screen
- Sleep quality analysis
- FitSpark daily training guide
- Not as much functionality as most other GPS watches
Our Final Opinion About the Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch[usrlist Quality:5 Effectiveness:4 Design:5 Price:4]
The Polar Ignite fitness watch is a digital, easy-to-use option that offers ideal functionality for nearly every user. Though it doesn’t have as many features as high-end options, and is relatively overpriced without these features, it is a great-looking watch that will please most fitness gurus.
Coros Pace 2 GPS Watch Review
The Strength-Training Alternative
If you’re looking for an incredibly intelligent watch to help you take your strength-training to the next level, the Coros Pace 2 GPS watch is the best choice. It can track every workout you’ll ever perform, and it will deliver unmatched analytics for your training sessions.
Coros Pace 2 GPS Watch Video Review
What We Think of the Coros Pace 2 GPS Watch
For strength trainers out there, it doesn’t get better than this Coros watch. There are so many amazing features we don’t even know where to start. This white, 36-gram watch has a 1.2” screen size. Its compact form guarantees comfort and unobtrusiveness, two import things during workouts. The water resistance is rated up to 50 metres, so water-based activities can be tracked as well.
The battery life on this watch is incredibly impressive. In training mode, it can last for 20 hours, in GPS mode, it can last for 100 hours, and in standard smart watch mode, it can last up to 20 days! You won’t have to charge this watch like crazy, which is awesome for busy individuals. The Bluetooth connectivity is great, and the digital touch screen makes interacting with the watch incredibly efficient.
This is the best GPS watch I found for my budget. The GPS tracking is very accurate and easy to visualize right on the watch, the battery life is really great so I hardly ever need to think about it which is nice. It syncs easily to apps like trainingpeaks, which is good since I don’t really enjoy their app. The heart monitor isn’t that great, but that’s expected with these watches.
Although it doesn’t have the best app, there are a couple features that make this watch one of the best on the market. Its strength training program has more than 200 exercises, meaning you can do pretty much any type of training you want and still receive accurate tracking. Reps, sets, and target muscle groups will all be identified accurately and reliably. There is no better way to track your strength training.
Coros Pace 2 GPS Watch Specifications
- Colour: White
- Weight: 36 grams
- Battery Life: 20 hours in training, 100 hours in GPS mode, 20 days in smart watch mode
- Water Resistance: 50 meters
- Screen Size: 1.2 inches
Coros Pace 2 GPS Watch Pros and Cons
- Incredibly accurate activity tracking for reps, sets, muscle groups, etc.
- Strength training program has more than 200 exercises
- Digital touchscreen for super easy navigation
- Bluetooth connectivity for notifications and music
- App isn’t the best
Our Final Opinion About the Coros Pace 2 GPS Watch[usrlist Quality:5 Effectiveness:5 Design:5 Price:5]
The Coros Pace 2 GPS watch is a great training assistant for every weightlifter, strength trainer, and athlete. It is priced well, easy to use, and has advanced tracking abilities that will outperform nearly every other smartwatch on the market. If you want to track your strength training sessions, there is no better choice.
Why Should You Trust Us?
All our recommendations on The Good Choice are the result of many weeks or months of research, comparisons, analyses of user’s ratings and if need be, interviews with experts and scientists. You will quickly notice that the products we suggest here are not the most expensive or the most trendy: they are those that will best perform their daily tasks, passing all security, reliability and efficiency tests while having an appealing price-quality ratio for everyone.
In the end, the products we recommend are those we would have wanted to buy, or those we will choose for our friends and family.
Things to Know Before Buying a GPS Watch
Why Use a GPS Watch?
There are countless benefits to using a GPS watch, regardless of whether you’re an athlete, outdoor enthusiast, or an occasional hiker. The most obvious benefit of using a GPS watch is that it will track your route in real time, allow you to view and plan routes at thousands of locations, and follow your route back to your starting point. The GPS functionality also means that these watches are incredibly safe for runners, hikers, and anyone outdoors alone since they can alert your emergency contacts to your location if something goes wrong.
These watches also track your progress by showing your speed, distance, and time when running, can count your reps and sets when strength training, map laps when swimming indoors or outdoors, and so much more on hundreds of exercises and activities. A GPS watch is often equipped with Bluetooth connectivity so that you can listen to music, receive notifications from your phone, and answer or send texts and calls without needing your bulky phone. In nearly all ways, a GPS watch offers more functionality than your phone and smartwatch combined.
How to Properly Choose Your GPS Watch
GPS watches are similar to other smart watches in a lot of functionality, but they are much more expensive on average since they have advanced technology that other devices do not possess. There are many affordable options, but some GPS watches can cost several hundred to more than one thousand, so setting a budget early is absolutely necessary for your own sanity when shopping for a GPS watch. We recommend setting a price you’re comfortable with first, then narrowing down your choices based on features and user friendliness second.
- Water Resistance.
Since GPS watches are used for outdoor activities, water resistant is a necessity. Though some are only designed to handle sweat and rain, many models can be submerged for swimming and diving up to 50-100 meters depending on the watch. If you plan on using your watch for water-based activities even part of the time, you’ll want great water resistance to ensure a long lifespan.
- Screen Size.
GPS watches are designed with large screens so that users can see and read it easily when outdoors and on the move, but not all screens are the same. They typically range from 1 inch to 2 inches in diameter, so you’ll be able to choose a display size that suits your eyesight, wrist size, and preference no problem. You’ll also want to look at how well the screen is designed since a smaller screen with a better layout will be easier to read than a larger but confusing screen.
- Battery Life.
Ah, battery life – the bane of all smart watch wearers. Since you’ll most likely be wearing your GPS watch 24/7, you need a watch that can keep up with your movements. Some watches have batteries that last for months while others are designed to be recharged weekly or every few days. The battery life will change depending on what features you’re using, and the difference in hours between GPS mode, training mode, and smart watch mode vary greatly. To be sure that it will suit your needs, make sure you check the battery life in each working mode.
- Activity Profiles (biking, running, swimming, etc.).
GPS watches are advanced enough to be able to track your workouts and exercise based on your wrist movements. Some watches only have a handful of programs that can be identified, but others have hundreds. If you want to use your GPS watch as a training assistant, be sure to choose one that can track and display your exercises.
GPS watches are incredibly smart, and most models can connect to an app that allows you to visualize weekly training, view and plan routes, and a lot more. The more advanced watches can even connect to your devices via Bluetooth so you can receive notifications and stream or download music from your phone to your watch. If you want full smartwatch functionality, you’ll need Bluetooth connectivity.
- Performance Analytics.
Unlike most other smart watches, GPS watches can track your heart rate, distance and time, route, reps and sets when strength training, recovery time, sleep, calories, intervals, laps, speed, and a lot more. These stats are incredibly useful for athletes in training or anyone else who wants to keep track of their fitness and progress over weeks, months, and years.
- GPS Intelligence.
Of course, when choosing a GPS watch, it’s important that its GPS functionality is remarkable. A watch that connects to all satellite constellations is ideal since you’ll receive incredibly accurate information with reliable coverage anywhere in the world. Many GPS watches have a barometer and altimeter as well to provide even more detailed information about your location at all times, which is especially useful for hikers, rock climbers, and the like.
GPS watches are expensive and a high-tech piece of equipment, so you’ll want a warranty to protect your investment and guarantee the optimal functioning of your watch. One year is fairly standard to protect against manufacturer defects, but it never hurts to look for longer warranties just to be safe.
We do our best to provide you with a comparative guide of GPS watches allowing you to choose the best product possible. If we are missing information or new models, do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to send us a message.